1) The I-680 Express Lanes will create more congestion, not less
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC’s) own report shows that if you don’t pay the toll, travel times along Highway 680 in the San Ramon Valley will increase at least 6%. That’s because they removed one freeway lane to accommodate the new Express Lane. In comparison, MTC actually added new lanes to create the I-580 Express Lanes in Pleasanton.
2) Express Lane access is not guaranteed
If there are too many people paying to use the Express Lane, the Toll Administrator can instantly change the lane into ‘HOV Only’ mode, which allows only carpools access to the lane. Meaning that you can still be stuck in traffic congestion even if you want to pay to bypass it.
3) The I-680 Express Lanes discourages good behavior
Better traffic management means encouraging drivers to travel during off-peak hours. But the I-680 Express Lanes actually charges you a toll to do the right thing or face an artificially created congestion by reducing available travel lanes.
This isn’t reducing traffic congestion, it’s creating more traffic to justify the existence of an Express Lane!
4) MTC ignored other traffic congestion management solutions
All along the Bay Area, Caltrans is installing new cameras, metering lights, signs, and retiming frontage road traffic signals. But not along I-680 in the San Ramon Valley.
Instead of trying cheaper, less invasive solutions, the MTC has decided to create mass confusion and traffic congestion with the flip of the switch on September 30th. Danville and San Ramon residents are left to suffer needlessly as MTC and Caltrans ignored impacts to our local roads, like Danville Blvd.
5) MTC is using the San Ramon Valley as an experiment
MTC hopes to install Express Lanes on most Bay Area freeways sometime between 2020-2035, creating an almost continuous network of toll lanes.
But until then, MTC believes they should operate the San Ramon Valley I-680 Express Lanes as if those other lanes already exist. This means extended tolling hours during off-peak times and charging San Ramon Valley residents a toll for years, long before anyone else has to pay.
6) MTC has not studied the effects of Express Lanes during off-peak hours
No studies or analysis currently exist that justify Express Lane operations during off-peak, midday, and shoulder hours. MTC staff has shirked their responsibility to provide the public with transparency and accountability, for no apparent reason. And that means the public is in the dark as to how much worse Express Lanes will make the San Ramon Valley commute become.
7) SRV residents won’t be able to get around town
Currently, residents of Danville and San Ramon can expect to get around town without a problem between 9 am to 3 pm and then again after 7 pm. But once rush hour hits, all of the major local thoroughfares are jammed with drivers taking shortcuts.
According to MTC’s own study, when the Express Lanes are turned on, rush hour will end after 9 am and start again just after 2 pm. Meaning highway and local road congestion will start before our schools let out. And it’ll last later into the evening.
In other words, our local streets and Highway 680 will be gridlocked for the majority of a typical work day. Try squeezing errands, a doctor’s appointment, and a lunch appointment into that narrow traffic jam-free window.
8) MTC ignored local resident’s concerns
When presented with all of these concerns during various public meetings throughout 2017, the I-680 Express Lane project manager made statements that shocked city and county officials. The manager:
-Confirmed I-680 Express Lanes in the San Ramon Valley will run all day, counter to what local residents were told during preliminary public hearings.
-Said operational consistency across all Express Lanes in the Bay Area is most important, not taking into account the local roadway conditions nor the desire of local residents.
-Dismissed their own agency’s study of potential delays and congestion caused by operating the I-680 Express Lanes.
We need to tell these regional governmental agencies to stop bullying San Ramon Valley residents. Danville, San Ramon, Alamo, and Walnut Creek residents know what’s best for our own towns. Not some disconnected government bureaucrat in a San Francisco office tower, 40 miles away.